Anonymity at the level of radio press and film? What does that really mean? I suppose it's wise to have a look at who I'm actually dealing with in AA before I can understand anonymity. Why Alcoholics (Anonymous)? Why would being anonymous protect the sober member and the fellowship as a whole? If something works for some why not make a movie about it or grab a Mr. Microphone and share it with the world? Turn up the volume! (( Hey good lookin!! we'll be back to pick you up for an AA meeting later!!)) Most are only trying to help right? Get excited about recovery? Have a heart, share a heart. A new found hope. Actually participate in something positive for once? Do less harm? The happy joyous and free turn that frown around make lemonade thing. No more pain, please no more pain....
Many newcomers like I was cannot see themselves yet, and lacking sufficient coping skills feel completely abandoned in every corner of their life. Wife no wife, kids no kids, job no job.. Even your old reliable basement bedroom (safe place to isolate and masterbate) at Ma's house has been turned into a den. You're out and sober. It's fly or die. You better do something like, now! Today!
So you surrender and go to the treatment center where you grab a plate and enter the recovery buffet line with everyone else. Where everyone is an addict so there is no stigma, no blame. Only drama as I look at myself. Still a crisis, me them whoever. I get a glimpse at my people problem. A peek at fear. I've removed myself from my addiction obsessed life but am still a mess. I wouldn't recognize myself in a mirror. I am only seeing what I believe is safe to see. I am afraid to let go.
Three meals a day? Yes. Clean bed to sleep in for maybe 28 days at least? Yes. Half way house or sober living facility afterwards? We'll see. Reclaimed personal hygiene? Yes please. Friends? Yes. Group therapy centered on addiction? Ok. Pretty girls your age? Just a little. Higher Power? No thanks.
I have found a new camaraderie in the world of the clean and sober. A safe environment I easily mistake as reality. A world where I am judged by my intentions like Lucky Larue. Yes it's a crazy nutty world on the outside as much as on the inside but I'm getting that whole (I am he and you are he as you are me and we are all together) thing.. My treatment center stay offers emotional security, a newly discovered strength in numbers. There is no anonymity.
So to be fair? I'll begin by simply looking at myself and see if anonymity applies. Should I myself remain anonymous? Or is anonymity some out dated concept. I have good intentions and certainly don't want to hurt anyone so why be anonymous? What's the difference between the thousands of blogs I've posted on the net surrounding AA or Big Book 12 Steps in the last say 10 years? And the group of young people who make a movie about their recovery while plugging their talk therapy treatment center Babbling Brook Sober Sanctuary? Adding production studio to their outpatient services?
Is money the same as expectations? Is a selfish motive the common culprit? Has selfishness become so diluted with good intentions that it's now just another politically correct grey area nobody discusses for fear of stepping on the toes of those just trying to do the right thing? Like hey, selfishness is the new good thing? Or there's really no such thing as selfishness, there's only human nature and a willingness to survive. We're all victims here, we don't need no stinkin directions..
Many believe the Big Book text and the 12 Steps laid out in masterly detail in it's pages are antique. God is so yesterday. Churches are just castles made of sand. Religion has been painted black and the Pope poops in the woods. We are all born into our own unique birth right. No two selfish demands are the same.
I'll admit I've never been to a whoopee party or suffered in post WW11 delusion. But I am alcoholic. Is a Veterans horrific return to Normandy beach the same as the lifetime of tunnel vision surrounding physical abuse as a child of the 50's or 60's? I can't say. I can say I've probably sampled whatever drug was available and have abused a few, but the main issue for me? Was the booze. And AA had a primary purpose in 1935 just like 2018.. Serve the suffering alcoholic. No rewrites or wording changes in the 12 Steps of recovery. Just the Book and it's directions. The spiritual malady is the same as it ever was for a teen or elder..
When it comes to an intellectual cure for a spiritual malady? It's apples and oranges. Not a good place to brainstorm for the real alcoholic like myself described in the Big Book text. Not as a man suffering in spiritual emptiness or hopelessness. AA's suggested Big Book 12 Steps are not an Ivy league sober school where a better philosophy of life is studied and offered to those who have the sober smarts to pick up the ball and run with it making the winning goal!, once the alcohol is removed. Credit due for living sober? As if great! Now that that's over I have learned sufficient facts about my drinking and can get on with my life! Just say no. Well, for the hopeless alcoholic there are no such guarantees that I have seen by taking AA night classes. I can't think my way out of my alcoholism and don't think for a minute I haven't tried. My entire life has been trying to fix myself while exhausting every option available in the depths of extreme selfishness. I can make lots of plans sure. I just can't stick to them. Once the people are involved the variables become too great to overcome. People seemingly have more power than I do and my self reliance fails. Like that don't bring a knife to a gun fight scenario. The problem with me is? If I fiddle with the knife long enough I'll cut myself. Who has guns isn't the problem. I'll stab myself on the way to the fight....
It's a spiritual power thing apparently and my sober smarts just have no power in the spiritual realm.. Although not a particularly stupid man? Generally speaking I still have no power to think my way out of, over or through a spiritual malady. Yes, those who created AA have testified that alcoholism is a spiritual malady. Everything I believe in as my AA recovery is centered around this fact. I believe in AA. AA rescued me from myself. Disease? Yes. Spiritual disease. Does alcoholism effect other areas of my being? Sure! But it's my belief that until the spiritual malady is addressed and in my case overcome, nothing else can offer any lasting support. The impending doom of switching seats on the titanic and settling for alarming wet feet before I change seating again.
Kind of like going out in the freezing weather without a warm coat and getting sick. Was I sickened because I wasn't dressed warm? Once I put the coat on I would solve the sick problem? The general consensus is well? No wonder your sick! You were out in the freezing weather with no coat! Or was it because my body's resistance was lowered as I used up my energy combating the cold in an effort to keep my body temperature normal. My immune system weakened and I became unable to fight off a virus that was here all along and surrounding me constantly anyway. I live in a sea of bacteria and viruses everyday. We all do. We don't generally see it but it's there every day in every thing. Yikes! I thought it was because I wasn't wearing a coat!
Some like myself see the world as a spiritual realm. Simply being sober does not mean I will be spiritually fit. Praying in the morning to choose the spiritual path doesn't mean I'm going to automatically stay on it all day.
The coat? The alcohol? These are symptoms of an underlying cause. At my best I still seem to lack the sufficient strength to care for myself properly. Myself? All the people? All the kings men? Can't seem to change this fact. Cluttered by others many philosophies of life, endless symptoms created by countless people places and things I am unable to see the actual fact at hand. The one thing I can't think my way out of. The spiritual malady. So it's natural I would pick the most obvious symptom. The alcohol. The alcohol is the problem so get rid of that? And get on with assembling a sober life. Seems rational. Simple as putting on a warm coat.
There are many sets of directions on living sober from many brilliant and not so brilliant professionals and common folk. I'm not here to persuade anybody to seek recovery in AA or anywhere else really. You do what works for you and I will do my best to show support in whatever it may be, this attitude reduces harm... The Big Book suggests addressing the spiritual malady as the underlying problem. Everything else will follow once this malady has been overcome. This is where I am at. This is what I believe. Because we may have different approaches does not make us a threat to each other. Only the denial will create a threat to ourselves. I'm hopefully way past thinking that because I believe in something it isn't absolute for everyone else. That whole you have something I don't fear. That whole my way or the hiway creating my self esteem chestnut. It's an entitlement thing. I am entitled to my thoughts and beliefs. No different than accepting yours. There is give and take, not just take. I am generally not afraid. I have nothing to steal.
So now that I've established I'm harmless and am filled with good intentions? Why shouldn't I be able to make a documentary on the AA fellowship or the 12 Steps. The main reason is this. I am one person. One alcoholic who lives by a generally respected interpretation of the Big Book 12 Step text. At my best and in my day I could successfully sponsor maybe 8 or 10 guys daily in the actual 12 Step work. Do I or should I also have a life outside of AA? Or that I bring my AA program into like say ..Family, career, hobbies or just plain old fun at the beach? Of course. Plus the Big Book suggests I not make my AA my total life's work every minute of everyday.. So one guy like myself who is active in AA sponsorship and living life packing all I can into it each day basically? Has their hands full. So now out of the goodness of my heart or simply because ones good so two's better, I'm going to the next level. I'll make a movie and promote AA wellness like I have been shown to what, thousands who are in need of some form of recovery? This is great but where are all these people going to go? They're not coming to my meeting.
The melting pot of AA is like a big ole stew cooking on the stove. I have the best of intensions and wish to freely feed as many people as I can. Too much salt? No problem just add some sugar. Too much salt? More sugar. More meat means more salt so get a bigger pot and add more sugar to counteract the salt. More hungry people so add more potatoes and add salt. Need a bigger stove now for two big pots. Too salty on the second pot but there's no more sugar so if people are hungry they'll eat it anyway. I mean hey, it is food..People who taste the first pot only want the first pot. Others see this and nobody wants the second pot. So, you start another pot. Now there's three big pots of stew on the big stove. One good one, one over salted and one not ready yet that people who are starving are willing to try anyway.
I'm AA I start a Big Book 12 Step meeting. It's great for me but not everyone who shows up is a hopeless alcoholic so. I start a 12 Steps and 12 Traditions meeting where self admitted alcoholics who still have a few marbles can read retain and apply the teachings of Bill W's essays. People want to talk about their real problems and identify with eachother so I start a discussion meeting where a recovery topic is suggested and discussion follows. What about all the people who are potential alcoholics or family even friends of the alcoholic or problem drinker? Ok, I start a open stand up speaker meeting where a AA member shares their experience on what it was like drinking, what happened to get you to the halls of AA, and what it's like now living sober. This open speaker meeting can travel to other meetings and share also. Then there's the AA offered to men and women in jails, mental institutions, nursing homes, and the Court system. The Big Book reprints in different languages.
What I'm trying to say is AA is a whole lot bigger than me, my 35 years sober and my half dozen x 100 sponsees over time. I am responsible for myself and am still willing to learn when and how to give. I make sandwiches on occasion for some AA meetings. I have been doing this for years. I do it as an anonymous donation meaning they come in the back door and are not to be associated with me or my name. If I am publicly recognized as the food guy especially in the meeting? I am not remaining anonymous and will stop.
Some good AA friends have died recently so I had some cards made up with a place for your name and phone number to offer to a new guy rather than scribbled on a matchbook or piece of paper towel. On the other side I put the persons name in remembrance. There is no actual AA affiliation except the words "it works it really does" on the reverse side. Pretty anonymous I thought. I'll hand them out after the meeting or at the wake. Nothing while the AA meeting is in session.
The Big Book says when introduced to an AA prospect? Find out all you can about them. You are in a much better position to put yourself in their shoes and determine the best approach. Some want it? Some don't. Some are tailor made for me and others are best passed over to another who may be better suited in meeting their needs. I would surely be the missionary of the year if I went public and said AA was what works for alcoholism or any and all addictions really so if you think you are an alcoholic or a drug addict or whatever? Thinking a Mother Teresa merit badge would be nice? Get there right away! No. AA works for me. I can safely speak for myself and my life living one day at a time on the spiritual path suggested in the Big Book. This is what I know. I have no idea what everyone else is thinking or doing in AA. I have enough trouble minding my own business. Taking my own inventory.
No different than me saying because I am Big Book 12 Steps that all of AA is Big Book 12 Steps. It isn't and it's not supposed to be. The 12/12 reading of pages 17 thru 23ish will prove it although many extremely self-centered thumpers believe the 12/12 won't even get the wood stove going. Or some say do a Step a year or just read them or use a Hazeldon 7 deadly sins workbook. Only do a 4th Step on immediate family. Go to a Primary Purpose meeting. Make use of whatever the treatment center offers, Fellowship of the Spirit, We Agnostics group, Joe and Charley tapes and workbook, Hyannis method, A course in Miracles, even that do the 12 Steps in a weekend seminar thing. Or even go to a Matt Talbot retreat with your sponsor and talk quietly or just calm down. Telling the world that any one of these is the only way is being really irresponsible and this is one of many reasons why AA is an anonymous program. It's not Bill or Bobs or Ebby's anonymous. It's not Silkworth's anonymous. Townes hospital isn't the only place to get help.
It's alcoholics anonymous. You're alcoholic? You do what you can. You do the best you can. I must remember I am not all things to all people. I cannot transmit a message I haven't got. My recovery depends on me and my relationship with my Spiritual Higher Power. I pray each day to not do or say anything that will harm another who suffers in the spiritual malady. I pray to be responsible.
So, anonymity. Can I see the bigger picture today? Am I alcoholics anonymous or am I a member of alcoholics anonymous today. A little bit to think about before I head out to save the world. Am I right sized. Or am I afraid and in need of a bigger piece of the pie for my own security.